UAS Ops Conducted aboard USCGC Bertholf

The U.S. Navy completed an MQ-8B Fire Scout demonstration aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Bertholf (WMSL 750) on Dec. 12 as part of the Coast Guard’s ongoing efforts to assess the potential for future unmanned air system (UAS) operations from the 418-foot National Security Cutter class.

The 10-day demonstration off the coast of Southern California met all the Coast Guard’s objectives, performing launch and recovery operations, conducting various simulated search patterns and transmitting data and imagery.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Broadhurst, UAS platform manager, said:

UAS have the potential to significantly increase the surveillance range and capabilities of our Coast Guard cutters and this demonstration will help to inform the service on the best way to proceed forward with the acquisition of the right unmanned capability in the future.

Bob Ernst, Multi-Mission Tactical UAS program (PMA-266) chief engineer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, added:

Our team worked rapidly over the last 11 months to ensure we were ready to support their efforts as well as test new system capabilities for the Navy.

While the MQ-8 system has successfully operated off frigates, guided missile destroyers and littoral combat ships (LCS), this event marked the first at-sea radar test and first integration of the mobile ground control station (GCS) configuration.

Since 2009, the MQ-8 Fire Scout has flown more than 14,000 operational hours, primarily in the Mediterranean, Afghanistan and Horn of Africa regions, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to operational forces. It made its first deployment with USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in November.

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Press release, Image: USCG

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